Why we're here:
This blog is to highlight the unjust persecution of legitimate non-TV users at the hands of TV Licensing. These people do not require a licence and are entitled to live without the unnecessary stress and inconvenience caused by TV Licensing's correspondence and employees.

If you use equipment to receive live broadcast TV programmes, or to watch or download on-demand programmes via the BBC iPlayer, then the law requires you to have a licence and we encourage you to buy one.

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Sunday, 11 November 2018

TV Licensing's Annual Black & White Licence Propaganda

Every year TV Licensing fills the newspaper with hundreds of creative statistics about the number of black and white TV licences still in force.

Let's be honest - does anyone really care that there are only 7,000 black and white licences in force across the whole UK, of which 15 are said to be in Salford and 6 in Basingstoke?

Not really is the honest answer, but churning out locally-targeted statistical dross provides TV Licensing with the ideal opportunity to publicise its key message - get a TV licence or else.

Remember that TV Licensing's PR harlots write these articles and distribute them en masse to the local media. The local media isn't too discerning about what it publishes, so will nearly always print TV Licensing's words verbatim. That's despite the fact that a lot of TV Licensing claims don't withstand closer scrutiny.

Some people on Twitter have been querying the fact that anyone can still have a black and white TV licence. It is still possible to have a black and white TV licence, but only in the following limited circumstances:
  • The licence holder is now using their old black and white TV set connected to a digital set top box. 
  • That digital set top box must not be able to record the signals it receives.
Contrary to what TV Licensing would have people believe, it does check up on those properties where a black and white TV licence is in force. You can read more about so-called "monochrome challenge visits" in our earlier article on the subject.

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Saturday, 3 November 2018

BBC Explores Options to Reduce Cost of Over-75 TV Licences

As we have previously mentioned (see here, here and here), the BBC is actively seeking ways of reducing the cost of providing "free" TV licences to households with at least one occupant aged over 75.

The Government, in common with the people, recognises that the BBC pisses a fair amount of money against a wall, so under the terms of its recently-renewed Royal Charter the Corporation has been made more accountable over the state of its finances.

In short, savings and efficiencies have to be made and it is for the BBC to decide where to swing the sword. The "free" over-75 TV licence, which the BBC will be responsible for self-funding from 2020/21, represents the ideal target. By 2020/21 the annual cost of providing those licences will be around £750m, which is not an insignificant amount compared to the BBC's annual licence-fee take of around £3.6bn.

Three years ago, at no doubt considerable expense, the BBC commissioned Frontier Economics to produce a report exploring ways of reducing the cost of the over-75 TV licence. The report has just been published (read it in full here), hence the recent re-emergence of this story in the media.

Frontier has come up with four ideas for cost reduction:

1. Completely scrap the over-75 TV licence.
The report estimates that residual costs to shut down the concession would cost £72m - or 10% of the cost of continuing with it.

When the government introduced the free licence fee for over 75s in 2000, it was argued the benefits would (largely) go to poorer households. However, that argument has weakened with the improvement in living standards for the over-75s.

2. Replace the "free" over-75 TV licence with a 50% concession to eligible households.
A 50% concession is in line with the current concession offered to those with visual impairments.

It estimates the cost to the BBC would be around £400m in 2021/22, which is 56% of the cost of reinstating the current concession - the extra 6% is due to admin.

3. Increase the age threshold for eligibility.
According to Frontier, raising the age threshold for a "free" TV licence to 77 years would cost £645m per annum, which represents a saving of around 13%.

If the age threshold was raised to 80 years the cost would be £481m, which represents a saving of just over a third. Those aged over 80 are more likely to live alone, so such a move could help target the concession towards those most reliant on television for company.

4. Means-test eligibility.
Two possibilities were suggested: Either link the concession to those over-75s in receipt of pension credit; or link the concession to every pensioner in receipt of pension credit.

The first of those options would cost around £208m per annum (just over a quarter of the current cost); the second option would cost around £327m per annum (less than half the current cost).

Whichever option the BBC chooses, we can be entirely confident that it will be removing "free" TV licences from many of those households that currently benefit.

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Thursday, 1 November 2018

BBC Launches New Sounds Platform

Radio programmes are no longer available on the BBC iPlayer, with the introduction of the Corporation's new Sounds platform.

The idea, according to the BBC, is to make radio content more readily available and accessible to younger listeners. The new service launched with 80,000 hours of "unmissable" music, radio and podcasts available to stream either live or on-demand at the push of a button.

James Purnell, former Labour Party leech and BBC Director of Radio and Education, said: "BBC Sounds will bring you all our audio at the touch of a button. We’ll do the hard work of finding the right mix, podcast or radio programme for you. It’s the start of an adventure - we’ll learn from our audiences to keep improving what Sounds offers, so we can bring the best to everyone."

Bob Shennan, Director of Radio and Music, added: "BBC Radio has always been brilliant at reinventing itself and BBC Sounds is the next chapter in that great tradition. We make the best radio, podcasts, and offer the best music curation in the world - and through BBC Sounds we can ensure more people than ever can enjoy that when and how they want."

The death of iPlayer radio has a deeper significance to us here at the TV Licensing Blog. Until now anyone challenged by TV Licensing over their use of the BBC iPlayer could simply say "I only listen to radio programmes" and there was no way of proving otherwise. With the BBC's on-demand television and radio offerings now totally separate, unlicensed BBC iPlayer viewers will not be able to offer that defence.

Of course anyone who follows the golden rule of no contact at all with TV Licensing is unlikely to have any difficulties in the future.

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